Heel Tough Blog: UNC opens ACC Tourney in 2nd Round Against Notre Dame


Despite a roller coaster of a regular season it is still good to get the season sweep over Duke. Let’s be honest though they aren’t that good of a team and I am glad we didn’t play down to them. Despite being in Charleston for a bachelorette weekend I was able to watch the majority of the game at multiple bars. Don’t covid shame me btw. I quite enjoyed being back down south. And for all my fellow Tar Heels up north, I apologize but the south does it better. Besides, blue heaven is located in the south. A double digit lead never felt comfortable to me, but damn was it nice to have blown them out. I thoroughly celebrated with margs afterwards. It’s almost mind boggling that we had a 24 point lead at one point and the closest Duke got was 13. That was promptly answered by a Kerwin Walton 3. You kinda knew the game was going to go our way when Brooks hit a fall away 3 pointer as the shot clock was running down and then he felt confident enough to pull up from the top of the key. On senior night he went 2-3 from behind the arc and had 14 points.

I will go back to Walton since he is mentioned above. He has struggled at times throughout the season, but he has still been our most consistent shooter. It seems our team goes as Walton’s shooting goes and on Senior night it went well. Walton was 4-7 from 3, 6-9 from the field with 18 points. It has been fun to watch his game evolve. Early in the season he was just a catch and shoot jumper shooter. Now he can create his own shot. Defenders fly out to stop the 3 point shot and he calmly gives a head fake and dribbles a couple of times to get separation for almost automatic 2’s. Walton was a big recruiting get. It is fun to think about how much better he can get.

Love loves to play the darker shade of blue. Now we all know it’s a personal thing for Love when it comes to Jeremy Roach. Love originally wanted to go to Duke but wasn’t heavily recruited by them. You can tell he plays with a chip on his shoulder against the devils. He backed up his 25 point performance in the first outing with 18 points and 7 assists. It would be nice to see him play with that attitude every game.

Bacot also added 18. Sharpe had 7 and Kessler had 4 points. All made solid contributions. It is nice that it seems as though our big guys are getting it together in time for the postseason. Kessler’s increased minutes have definitely provided a lift.

As a team we shot 55.4% from the field, 44.4% from 3, and 80.8% from the line. Those are the numbers we need on a nightly basis. Turnovers are still a problem as we had 20.

It definitely wasn’t the regular season we all hoped for, but we have a little momentum going into the ACC tournament and that win pretty much solidifies our place in the NCAA tournament. I don’t know maybe that sense of urgency will kick in for those guys now that we are in postseason play. You never know what you are going to get from this team. We can beat any team but we can also lose to any team. Think about we have played with Iowa and Texas (2 of the top teams in the country). It is there when we want it to be. Hopefully “our want” is there from here on out.

On a final note, how awesome was it to see Manley finally get in and get a lob from Platek and then have a block at the other end. Oh yeah and I didn’t forget about Walker Miller’s charge to start the game. It was great to see those guys make contributions and then to see the excitement from their teammates… That is what Carolina basketball is all about. It is a family not a brotherhood and that is why we are the better blue.


BY THE NUMBERS:

No. 6 UNC is 16-9 overall (10-6 in the ACC) coming off of regular season finale win over Duke

No. 11 Notre Dame is 11-14 overall (7-11 in the ACC) coming off of a first round win over Wake Forest


ACC TOURNAMENT:

Carolina is second all-time in ACC Tournament championships (18) and wins (102) and has played in the finals a record 35 times.

Carolina's most recent title came in 2016 in Washington, D.C.

The Tar Heels are 102-48 in the ACC Tournament, including 2-1 in the second round (wins in 2015 and 2018 and a loss in 2020).

Carolina is 1-1 vs. Notre Dame in ACC Tournament play.

Roy Williams is 27-14 as Carolina's head coach in the ACC Tournament. He has led UNC to titles in 2007, 2008 and 2016, and eight appearances in 17 previous seasons to the finals.


SERIES:

Carolina leads the series, 26-8.

Carolina has won eight of the last nine games.

The Tar Heels are 10-4 since the Irish joined the ACC in 2013-14.

UNC is 1-1 against the Irish in the ACC Tournament, losing, 90-82, in Greensboro in the 2015 championship game, and beating Notre Dame a year later, 78-47, in the semifinals in Washington, D.C.

UNC is 1-1 against Notre Dame in Greensboro. In addition to the 2015 ACC title game, Carolina beat the Irish, 83-76, in a regular-season game in 2017. That game was originally scheduled for the Smith Center, but a water shortage in Chapel Hill resulted in the game being postponed a day and moved to the Greensboro Coliseum.

Roy Williams is 11-4 against Notre Dame (all while head coach of the Tar Heels).

On 1/2/2021, Leaky Black banked in the game-winning shot with 9.3 seconds to play in Carolina's 66-65 win in Chapel Hill. Day'Ron Sharpe had 25 points and 10 rebounds and Kerwin Walton made four threes and scored a dozen points.


REGULAR SEASON AWARDS:

Sophomore forward/center Armando Bacot was selected to the All-ACC third team.

Four freshmen also earned ACC honors.

Day'Ron Sharpe and Caleb Love were selected to the ACC All-Freshman team, the first time multiple Tar Heels made the freshman team since Harrison Barnes and Kendall Marshall in 2011.

Freshmen RJ Davis and Kerwin Walton earned spots on the Academic All-ACC team. They are the sixth and seventh UNC freshmen to make the Academic All-ACC team with Henrik Rodl, Tyler Zeller, Marcus Paige, Luke Maye and Nassir Little.





The Tar Heels will face the fighting Irish tonight at 9pm on the ACC Network as the ACC tournament returns to the Greensboro Coliseum. The tournament should stay in Greensboro or at least North Carolina in my opinion but that is neither here nor there. Notre Dame is coming off of a 80-77 win over Wake Forest. They went on a 17-2 run to close the game and Trey Wertz hit a deep 3 at the buzzer followed by a one finger salute to the Demon Deacon faithful. Keep in it classy catholics. Keep it classy.

The Tar Heels needed some late game heroics from Leaky Black in a one point victory back in January. That was also Sharpe’s coming out party as he had 25 points. Walton went 4-8 from 3 and added 12 points as the Heels escaped at home 66-65. Everyone else struggled. The Irish played 9 against us the first go around. They started 2 forwards and 3 guards. Laszewski killed us from behind the arc going 7-11 and 25 points. Hubb added 14 in the first matchup. The Irish went 11-30 from 3. Albeit that isn’t a great percentage, half their points come from behind the arc. They are clearly a team that relies on the 3. We had a 49-26 rebounding advantage and I suspect that will be the case again tonight.

We only had 8 turnovers in the first matchup and this will once again be key as Notre Dame is not a team that is careless with the basketball. They only committed 8 against the Demon Deacons. They also got outrebounded as well. They have a negative rebounding margin so this comes as no surprise.

The Irish only rotated 7 guys last night. They started 2 forwards and 3 guards. Laszewski and Durham started down low and Wertz, Hubb and Djogo started in the backcourt. The Irish put 4 players in double figures including Durham, Wertz, Hubb, and Ryan contributed 14 off the bench. Goodwin and Djogo added 9 each. Laszewski struggled against the Deacs going a combined 1-9 from the field including 0-3 from 3. He only had 2 points as he battled foul trouble. Don’t expect a repeat performance tonight. Laszewski is still a matchup problem considering our bigs struggle to guard the perimeter. Again he isn’t going to drive past Brooks or Bacot (or Sharpe or Kessler for that matter). They need to play him close. For some reason our entire team likes to guard the 3 point line with their hands down. Do that tonight and expect the Irish to be draining 3’s. They went 12-26 from behind the arc against the Deacs, 51.7% from the field, and 88.9% from the charity strike. Those are impressive numbers. I’m not sure if they can repeat that 2 nights in a row, but I really wouldn’t like our Heels to chance it. Just come out with some intensity, play some defense and put the game away.

Don’t let the Irish’s record fool you though, this team is dangerous. Brey is a great coach and he always gets the most of his players. Maybe they will be tired after playing only 7 players last night. All saw over 20 minutes of action.

Once again expect our guard play to be a significant factor in the outcome of the game. Notre Dame has smart, experienced guards. I wouldn’t go as far to say we are young and dumb, but the young part is definitely accurate. Love needs to find the fire that he has when he plays that school from Durham and RJ needs to be a better facilitator. The combination of him and Harris have seemed to be a walking turnover the past couple of games.

Kessler only played 5 minutes in the first matchup so expect him to get more minutes this time around. He has been playing very solid basketball the past 5 games and he would be another big that we could throw at Laszewski. Johnson played 9 minutes in the first matchup, but obviously is not available. This could be another game where Platek sees a decent amount of minutes. He played 15 in the first matchup. I would expect the same tonight. Will Sterling Manley see any meaningful time? It is an interesting scenario to think about, but I honestly only see him coming in if Roy is unhappy with how our other bigs are playing or if they game gets out of hand. This is possibly Brooks last postseason run. I would expect him to play inspired basketball. Still don’t want to see him attempt 3 3-pointers again because let’s be real, he isn’t going to go 2-3 again. Get on the block big fella. We need to hit the glass and convert the easy put back chances we are going to get. In the first matchup we had 21 offensive rebounds that we converted in 18 points. We will get plenty of opportunities tonight as well.

So my keys to the game are this… Guard the 3 and convert in the post. A game with Virginia Tech is waiting in the wings if we can take care of business tonight. And since that game got canceled during the regular season, I want to see that matchup.


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